People often ask me if I am married when they see the gold ring with the heart pattern on my left finger. I smile and say “No, I am engaged”, or if I am really not in the mood for details, I simply say, “Yes”. I’ve even have had people tell me that it looks like a wedding ring, since it is gold and I have no “rock”. There is a reason I don’t have a “rock” and the ring is pure 24 karat gold (which I am forever trying not to bend the band out of shape).
I’m engaged to a man from India, where gold is highly valued and is believed to be the best material for traditional wedding jewelry. The ring was a gift from my fiance’s mother and both culturally and symbolically was her way of accepting me as her son’s future wife. It’s not every day custom for a man to bring home an American woman home to his family and introduce her as his future wife.
Of course, when I mention we are in a long-distance relationships I receive the on slot of questions and the most popular have been: “How did you meet?” “That must be really hard. How do you handle it? When are you getting married? Why doesn’t he just move here? Why don’t you move there? What does your family think of you marrying a foreigner?
This is why I tend to avoid divulging details of my relationship to people I just met, especially to those that ask these types of questions. It is clear they may not be open-minded enough to try and grasp the finer details and efforts a long distance relationships takes. So ladies, this is how I handle these questions.
How did you meet?
In the modern day world, more and more couples are meeting online either through social media websites or even applications. Couples have met on Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter. My fiance happened to find my email on a website related to looking for work in Japan, so I find it best to respond “He was my pen pal” which is the truth, except we exchanged emails versus handwritten letters. Honesty is your best policy in this measure and if the person asking cannot comprehend how you developed a relationship over communicating online and visits, that is their problem.
Or, maybe you met while studying or working abroad or even while you were on vacation and had to return to your home country. Whatever your circumstances were, there is no reason to hide the truth.
That must be really hard. How do you handle it?
“We choose to handle it. I think my fiancé is worth waiting for until everything falls into place and we can see each other every day. We communicate on a daily level and try to arrange visits when we can.” When I am feeling sarcastic, sometimes I want to reply long-distance relationships are not for the weak-hearted or the needy. It takes a strong heart to pull through those periods of times when you are not seeing each other and the unknown projected events and timelines a relationship might take.
When are you getting married?
This one is my favorite, because I really don’t know. Haven’t you heard of immigration laws? Or, maybe we are just not ready to set a date?
Why doesn’t he/she move here?
Please refer to the above reason.
Why don’t you move there?
Your reasons will vary, but once more I am bluntly honest to my questioner. “My fiance and I have no interest in living our lives in India and my lifestyle and commitments require me to live in the USA.”
What does your family think of you marrying a foreigner?
This has got to be one of the most insulting questions and I am sure many individuals in intercultural relationships have experience it. Why does it matter what country my future spouse is from? That is a personal choice and maybe my family isn’t racist. My favorite response is: “They don’t care.”
I constantly have to remind myself that not everyone is going to be able to grasp the concept of long-distance interracial relationships. Some people might be genuinely curious and do not realize the questions they ask could be considered quite intrusive or even rude. Then, there are those people who seem to understand and that I connect with and I don’t mind sharing details about my relationship and the person I love.